Ruppert becomes Pine RIver athletic director

LEROY — A transition in athletic directors has taken place at Pine River.

Longtime coach and teacher Shawn Ruppert has taken over the AD duties after Aaron Schab announced he was returning to the classroom full-time.

“I’ve been doing many of the tasks for a month or so now,” Ruppert said. “My duties will be varied and will include, but not limited to scheduling and supervision of athletic events, budgeting/purchasing of new equipment, determining athlete eligibility, setting up a busing schedule and making sure that our athletic facilities are ready for competition.”

Ruppert said he has not been teaching for a few years.

“I will continue my duties as dean of students, discipline fourth-to-12th-grades, district testing coordinator and attendance officer, to go along with my new AD duties,” he said. “The district was in need, and I was able to step in. I was very content and happy with what I was doing, but I will now have the opportunity to affect more Pine River students in a positive way. I am looking forward to the challenge.”

Ruppert has been coaching girls basketball and baseball for many years. Half of that will change now that he’s athletic director.

“The administration thought it would be better for the district, and myself, if I gave up my coaching duties for one of my sports,” he said. “With the winter season having more teams and dates of competition, it made sense for me to give up my basketball coaching position. It was not an easy decision, but probably a necessary one at this time. I will continue to coach baseball.”

Ruppert’s girls basketball team’s have had extensive success in winning league and district titles. His 2016-17 team lost in the regional final.

“There are so many highlights over my years of coaching basketball, I wouldn’t want to mention some and leave important memories and people out,” he said. “I will say that I’m most proud of how my teams represented our school and how our program came to be one of the most successful in the area. We went from being a perennial middle-of-the-pack team in our conference, to the team other teams were chasing and wanted to beat, as that would mean they had beaten the best.

“We were successful against other conferences and many other schools that were much bigger than us. Overall, I think we played very hard as a team and made the most of their ability. I would have to look up my record in varsity basketball. I know it’s not as many wins as I have in baseball, but I have been very blessed to coach talented, female athletes who play hard, and play together. They put team above ego and we were successful because of it. Good players make good coaches.”

Two seasons ago, Ruppert crossed the 500-win career mark in baseball.

“The challenges of being AD will be the same as it is for employees in other schools and other businesses, finding enough time to do all of your duties,” he said. “I want to do all of my jobs the right way. I hate leaving a job half done because of time constraints.”

Ruppert has been an employee at Pine River 27 years.

“I have been blessed to be able to work in the district where I, along with my wife and kids, went to school,” he said. “I have had many different duties and roles over the years, which has kept the job new and different. It’s a lot easier to go to work, and enjoy it, when you have new challenges to conquer.”

Currently, some of Pine River’s athletic facilities are going through major renovations, which was supported via a bond issue May 2016.

“Our renovation project will improve our district facilities in so many ways, and also will include athletic facility improvements (such as) a new eight-lane track, new football seating, completely replaced gym floor and safer, more comfortable, gym bleachers,” Ruppert said. “We also have a new cross country course which will be opening this coming season. It is exciting to see the community support our district and our students.”

Schab was athletic director for five years and has been at Pine River for 15. Along with teaching, Schab will be coaching football.

“I am going to be teaching in the elementary resource room,” Schab said. “Previously I had taught middle school social studies. I am changing roles to spend more time with my young family. The AD job can be very time consuming especially in the fall and winter. I realized how much I missed coaching football when I was allowed to coach last season due to a shortage of coaches.

“I also missed working with students and my new role will allow me to work with kids in a small group setting where I will be able to have an impact on kids that really need help academically. What I enjoyed most about being an AD was being able to watch student-athletes grow and mature as individuals.

“I still believe interscholastic athletics is the most important component in the educational process outside of classroom teacher-student relationships. There are so many benefits for athletic participation for young people, which sometimes gets lost with the pressure of wins and losses or playing time. I think we do it the right way at Pine River. I am proud of our kids and our programs. I feel our coaches get the big picture and never sacrifice their morals for wins. I am proud of what our athletic programs stand for and how they help students.”